Central Oregon hemp fields took a beating from hail storms this summer, costing farmers near Tumalo and Culver an estimated $25 million.
But that barely put a dent in a booming industry, said Matt Cyrus, president of the Deschutes County Farm Bureau.
“On an individual basis it’s devastating, but from an industry standpoint it will have no impact on the market,” Cyrus said of the storms.
The hemp market is exploding, he said, largely driven by the demand for CBD products. Hemp is poised to become Oregon’s most lucrative crop, he added.
Just a handful of farms produced hemp in 2014, the year longstanding restrictions on commercial production were lifted.
“The hemp industry is expected to exceed well over a billion dollars this year and be the number one commodity replacing cattle and calves,” he said.
But leafy hemp plants are especially vulnerable to hail, and a spate of storms in August damaged around 500 acres of the crop in Central Oregon.
Many affected farms did not carry insurance, Cyrus said, because the federal farm bill only legalized hemp crop insurance last year, and many growers may not realize it is available to them.